Shrine of Valour (Dambana ng Kagitingan) & World War II Museum, Mt. Samat, Bataan

In early 1942, Mount Samat was the site of one of the bloodiest battles between the Allied forces and the Imperial Japanese Army during the Battle of Bataan. After three months of intense fighting, the US and Philippine armies surrendered to the Japanese and what followed was the tragic death of thousands of men on the Bataan Death March. Considered the last stronghold of the battle, in 1966 then President Ferdinand Marcos declared Mount Samat a memorial park. The shrine complex, including the colonnade, museum and cross were completed in 1970 in time for the 25th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Designed by Lorenzo del Castillo, the marble colonnade is surrounded by an open esplanade, which at both ends displays the narrative of the Battle of Bataan. Within the colonnade itself stand two bronze urns, an altar and behind, three large stained glass windows that signify ‘The Supreme Sacrifice’, ‘The Call to Arms’ and ‘Peace’, all designed by the national Filipino artist Ceno Rivera. Beneath the colonnade, the shrine’s museum presents a collection of historical artefacts from the war, including a display of various weapons, a 3D map of the Bataan area and a series of photos illustrating the battle and the soldiers who took part.

Behind the colonnade stands the memorial cross. Made from reinforced steel and concrete, the cross stands at 92-metres tall, with the cross arms 30-metres wide. At the base of the cross an 11-metre high relief depicts important historical scenes and individuals in Filipino culture. Designed by artist Napoleon Abueva, the images tell the story of national hero Jose Rizal’s death, the first parachute landing by the 511th parachute infantry regiment, and the Battle of Bataan, amongst other images. An observation deck, located in the cross arms of the cross, can be reached via an elevator in the centre of the cross. On a clear day you can view Mount Mariveles, Corregidor Island and possibly even Manila, located across Manila Bay. Similar to the Capas National Shrine, Valor Day commemorations (or Araw ng Kagitingan in Filipino) are celebrated at the Mount Samat National Shrine every year on April 9th – the day the US and Filipino forces surrendered to the Imperial Japanese Army.

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